Thursday, March 10, 2016

Strength vs. Skill

One of the biggest arguments I see with athletes, particularly fighters and grapplers, is "strength vs. skill".

This argument is absolutely ridiculous to me, typically because people act like you are only allowed to possess one OR the other.

Why not have both?

I've heard so many fighters or fight coaches say that a fighter possessing excellent technique will beat a stronger but less skilled fighter.  This may be true, however what about when the exceptionally skilled fighter fights someone who possesses a greater degree of strength and equal technique?  I'm putting my money on the strong, skilled guy personally.

My good friend Brian, a guy who knows his way around an MMA gym AND a squat rack, made an excellent point to me one day when we were catching a workout at my gym, "Scott, if strength wasn't important to fighters why are so damn many UFC fighters failing their steroid tests?"  He's right, it's probably not to look good at weigh-ins.

I have been doing strength & conditioning work for a very good grappler, Jason, who is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  I saw Jason compete in November, 2011 at Grappler's Quest in Dalton, GA.   In the no-gi division Jason competed against a grappler who out-weighed him by 35 lbs--and won!  Jason took first in the no-gi division.  Later, in the gi division, Jason competed against the same guy and lost.  This guy won the gi division and Jason took 3rd.

After the tournament I asked Jason what happened, how did he lose to a guy he beat in the no-gi division?  Jason said the guy got a hold of his gi, pulled him in and was just too damn strong to do anything with.  

Consequently Jason dropped from about 215-220 lbs all the way down to 182 lbs for the 2012 Pan-Ams!

Jason Gaskill at the 2012 Pan-Ams!
Obviously, Jason's skill allowed him to beat this athlete in the no-gi division, but the other guy's strength was a huge factor in the gi division.  Jason started adding in a steady diet of strength and power training to his grappling prep and his teammates noticed real quick. 

The strength vs. skill argument is old and tired.  If you are a grappler, fighter or any sport athlete for that matter, it would do you a tremendous amount of good to make sure strength and power training were part of your preparation program.  Just make sure it is not at the expense of your sport-specific work and you'll be fine.

Stay Strong and Healthy!


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